The 1998 to 2001 period in the WWF was a critical and commercial success, with nearly every show feeling like 'must watch' television. Then in spring of 2001 it felt like everything changed. Creatively the company started to dip, leading to commercial recession too. By 2002 the product was in freefall, Mania buy rates had been rising year on year since the mid 90's, WrestleMania X8 was the first one in a long while not to top the previous year. Much loved characters and storylines were gone, attempts to introduce new stories and wrestlers being consistently misjudged. The once "popular", "trendy", "cool" wrestling fandom was now the reserve of "geeks" and "nerds". Just why did the WWF go from being the hottest pop culture subject of the late 90's into being a ridiculed joke in the mid 2000's? Why did they have a mainstream audience one year and only a niche fandom the next? Thousands and thousands of people just stopped watching wrestling. Whereas wearing a wrestling shirt had once made you 'badass' it now made you a loser. The popular audience that left is now refereed to as the 'casual fans', and WWE remains desperate to woo them back. Before we get into how the popularity collapsed, let's make note of how the original boom formed. It was off the back of a creative revolution in the WWF, an emphasis on edgier, sexier content. Adult males liked the new more violent wrestling show, leading to the popularity trickling down to the youth audience. If college kids think it's cool, it must be cool right? That perception spread and spread, the shock and awe violence of the WWF leading to a surge of viewers. Things like Mick Foley falling off a cage roof, The Rock talking about candy asses, Steve Austin drinking beer... people hadn't seen anything like it before. The feud of working man Steve Austin against Heel chairman Vince McMahon along with great matches such as Kurt Angle vs Triple H made the WWF unmissable. Then the company seemingly fell apart over night. Here's the 10 things that ruined the mainstream popularity and ultimately killed the Attitude Era.